We are homeschooling because of high rates of transmission in our area and because my kids don’t sit in front of computer screens and pay attention well (TV on the other hand…). I have a question about a kid with mismatched skill levels. My DC2 just started K (will be 6 in Nov) and has very mismatched math and language levels. He’s a pretty normal Kindergartener as far as reading and writing goes (can write simple words but handwriting is terrible, can read sight words and is learning word families) but he has very good number sense and will probably be ready to start Singapore Math 2nd grade in a few weeks.
I guess the question is… should I care or try to do anything about the mismatched skill level? Like back off on math time and push reading and writing more? Or just roll with it and figure that his reading skill will catch up? DC1 made huge strides in reading in 1st grade so I assume this will probably happen for DC2…
Also, both of my kids are working ahead of their grade – at least for some things. DC1 is in 2nd grade and doing Winning With Writing and Growing With Grammar 3rd grade, etc. What should I do when they go back to school? Should I try to maintain what we’ve learned through homework (which is unappealing because they will have school homework, too)? Not really worry about it? I don’t think grade skipping is something that is done here, nor do I really think it’s what we want because I’m not sure they are ahead in every way (especially in maturity).
I’m of two minds about letting kindergarteners just explore their interests and… helping give kindergarteners the skills they need to be able to discover new interests. I mean, learning how to read is BIG and opens up huge wonderful worlds to explore. It’s basically necessary for everything else. So, I’d say in this case, so long as the kid is happy with it, add some phonics. Since he likes TV, get a copy of the Leapfrog DVDs and learn their wonderful phonics songs by heart. Sing them while doing chores. As you continue to read to your child, putting your finger under the words you’re reading while you do it, reading may just happen on its own without additional upper-level instruction (We loved the Step into reading readers, like Too Many Dogs and Cat Traps — way more interesting than the dreadful Bob books). A good phonics foundation is important, but there’s no reason not to start off in a way that is easy on you and fun for the kid. No need to add any upper-level workbooks unless you and the child want to. We also had some fun phonics puzzles where the kids matched a picture of an animal with the name of an animal, that sort of thing. And definitely no need to cut back on math to make room for reading– just swap in some educational videos for TV and reading together for family time.
In the more general question… should you try to keep everything even, or allow single subject acceleration… What we have generally done: If we think there’s going to be a grade skip, we push on anything that is not on level for the next year (like memorizing facts about who “invented” the steamboat in the US). If one of the kids is behind on something (like spelling or grammar or Spanish or handwriting or typing) because it wasn’t picked up in the schools, we supplement for that, at least up to grade-level. For acceleration, we mostly focus on making it so they’re not bouncing off the walls. I love math and both my kids are interested in math, so it has been easier to push them on math than on other things (though DC2, the only artist in the family, has been using youtube to help explore that side of creativity, and DC1 has an extensive and growing knowledge of magic tricks). So, for the most part, we have a baseline level of what we expect them to have, and we make sure they’re at that baseline, then we accelerate in things they (or I) find more interesting. But a lot of it is about getting rid of some of their energy so they don’t start moving things with their minds like in Matilda.
When they get back to school, play it by ear. You may want to talk to the teachers about if they do single subject acceleration or if they do differentiation and clustering within the classroom. They may need to have new placement tests. Also look ahead: testing out of fifth grade math is REALLY common in our school district… in DC1’s year they had two full classes of seventh grade algebra because of it. If something like that is common, you may want to make sure you keep up with the math and fill any missing gaps. If school is challenging enough, then only supplement if they want it. Currently we have DC2 doing a full set of workbooks on weekends, but only Singapore Math (on grade level currently) during the week. Since zie only does a page a day instead of a full lesson a day it doesn’t generally take that long after everything else is done. When school wasn’t challenging enough, we had more supplementation during the week. DC1 finished a round of handwriting practice this summer because hirs was atrocious but zie doesn’t have any other outside-of-school assignments because zie gets enough at school (as a sophomore) now and isn’t super behind on anything.
Grumpy Nation, what are your thoughts? Anyone in a similar situation, what are your plans? Philosophically, how do you feel about whether to allow a single subject to be super accelerated vs. making subject learning levels more even?